“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” This is the third commandment. And Luther’s explanation, easily committed to memory, goes “We are to fear and love God so that we do not neglect his Word and the preaching of it, but regard it as holy and gladly hear and learn it.”
The Second Commandment, according to the Lutheran listing, has to do with the Name of God: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” And Luther’s explanation is as follows, “We are to fear and love God so that we do not use His name superstitiously, or use it to curse, swear, lie, or deceive, but call on Him in prayer, praise and thanksgiving.”
In reviewing the Ten Commandments there is a good reason why the first Commandment comes first. It is because it is the most important. In fact, were we to keep the first Commandment, the other nine would be no problem whatsoever!
It is a Lutheran insight to understand God’s Word speaking to us primarily in two ways. First, God’s Word comes to us as Law. His commandments indicate his perfect will. And second, God’s Word comes to us as Gospel or promise. These promises are based on what the Lord has mercifully done for us on our behalf.